All posts filed under: Editorial

This is what the Stanford Prison Experiment would look like if it targeted an entire society

The situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north-western China has been rapidly deteriorating over the past few years. Local ethnic minorities are targeted by central government’s re-education campaign seeking to sinicize and “normalize” them. Sinopsis interviewed Darren Byler, an anthropologist studying the Uyghurs (currently at the University of Washington) who has recently visited the region to conduct field research. He has been a prominent voice in the international debate about this human rights crisis affecting millions of lives, namely through his website The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia. What follows is an interview about Uyghur history and culture, the oppression from Chinese state and also about the situation of an academic abruptly entering a heated public debate closely related to his studies. Why and when did you get interested in studying Uyghurs? I first became interested in Uyghur society and culture when I visited their homeland in 2003. At the time I was a photography student. I was really taken with the vibrant street life in the Uyghur oasis cities. The courtyard houses …

“The Uyghurs of Kazakhstan have been pressured into inactivity”

The following is a translation by Gene Bunin of the Azattyq interview of Kakharman Kozhamberdi by Ayan Kalmurat, published in Russian on October 4, 2018. Gene decided to translate it as it answers a question that he often found himself asking during his time in Kazakhstan: “So, where are the local Uyghurs in all this?”  The Kazakhstan Uyghur Association has not been active in searching out relatives arrested in Xinjiang, nor has it made many statements regarding the issue. Azattyq talked to a main advisor of the World Uyghur Congress, Kakharman Kozhamberdi, about the reasons behind this state of affairs. Azattyq: It’s been over a year now that both activists and Chinese Kazakhs have been talking of the “oppression of ethnic minorities” in Xinjiang. However, there does not appear to be any activity among the ethnic Uyghurs in Kazakhstan with regard to this issue. Why is that? Kakharman Kozhamberdi: The reason is the pressure that comes from the law enforcement authorities. As an example, I was taken to administrative court three times [editor’s note: the …

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and the Chinese “De-extremification” Campaign: Interview with Darren Byler

A version of this interview first appeared in the online journal Voices on Central Asia in English and the Central Asian Analytic Network in Russian. It is republished here with permission. Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, as well as representatives of other Muslim nations living in China’s Xinjiang province, have faced religious restrictions and persecution by the authorities in recent years. Oppression has taken on a particularly large-scale character of late, with Uyghurs being forced to go through so-called “re-education camps.” The Chinese authorities justify their actions as security measures, while the international community claims that the rights of these religious and national minorities are being violated on a massive scale. The Living Otherwise project, founded by a group of young experts, is actively engaged in covering what is happening with Uyghurs in China. Dr. Darren Byler, who runs the platform, offers some insight into Islamophobia in China. Please tell us about Living Otherwise : The website I curate, LivingOtherwise.com, is a public-facing aspect of my doctoral research as an anthropologist at the University of Washington. By …

A Petition for “the Disappeared” in the Uyghur & Kazakh Homelands in China

By Darren Byler and Tahir Hamut with the support of Concerned Scholars of Xinjiang Also available in Uyghur (ئۇيغۇرچە) & Chinese (中文) Based on mounting evidence it is clear that the Chinese state is engaging in the extrajudicial systematic mass detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities. This process resonates with the most horrific moments in modern history. Such processes have resulted in generational trauma and social elimination. They shattered families, destroyed native forms of knowledge and, at times, resulted in mass death. We call on Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chen Quanguo, Chinese Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, to immediately abolish the “transformation through education” detention system and release all Uyghur and Kazakh detainees and prisoners that have been “disappeared” without due process or legal representation. Provide complete and open transparency regarding the location of all detainees and facilitate an immediate process of freeing and reunifying them with their children and their loved ones. Release of all Uyghur and Kazakh intellectuals and prisoners of conscience.  Allow Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minorities …